The International Federation of Social Workers declared 19th March as World Social Work Day to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme for that year into active practice, by a way of disseminating it to their communities, workplaces and to Government so they will see the need to raising awareness towards the contributions social work has impacted in society and the need for further action to be taken.
As a first year student at Fourah Bay College (USL) who is in the department of Sociology and Social Work and a Youth and Children Advocate, I will like to use Sierra Leone as a case study to reflect on what we have achieved in enhancing the well-being of human development and promoting the importance of Human Relationship. The Country has moved from eleven (11) years bloody civil war, to Ebola Outbreak, Mudslide, Flooding and Bad Leadership which are key factors responsible for the backwardness of the Country.
A Country with over thousands of organizations both local and international that do complement the efforts of government in providing an enabling environment for its citizens, but yet still we have numerous challenges facing the development of our nation. We have countless people who go to bed with an empty stomach, people that can’t access clean water and sanitation, people that can’t access good toilet facilities, children living in the streets, physically challenged people find it difficult to interpret the Disability Act of 2012 and women and girls living under suppression of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation.
Poverty and job creation have been some of the most challenging issues in the history of Sierra Leone. Social workers are providing services to less privileged people across the country, advocating for the right and welfare of people, some are serving as brokers, while others are serving in different capacities in ensuring that they uphold the ethical values of social work.
Sierra Leone has laws, policies and institutions but one of our major challenges as a nation is how to enforce these laws. Our systems are slow when it comes to enforcement and implementations but nevertheless we have lot to do as a nation in improving our human capital, thanks to the President H.E. Julius Maada Bio’s led government for the Free Quality Education and National Deceleration of State of Emergency on Rape and Sexual Violence. Even though there are lot to do in terms of sustainability and monitoring process of all these we are looking forward to the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion that will bring different tribes, religions and cultural backgrounds together to build and re-brand the vision of our beloved nation, Sierra Leone.
These are my recommendations to the Government of Sierra Leone and its Development Partners;
1. Law Enforcement: Through the support of our donor partners or the tax payers’ money; let the government enforce the laws that protect the rights of women, girls and children so that they can live to their fullest potentials.
2. Strengthening Institutions: Government should strengthen weak institution that are not fulfilling their mandate, support active institutions to carry out their mandate, organize capacity building training for institution dealing with the well-being of its citizens. Examples; Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Afffais, National Commission for Children, National Commission for Person’s with Disabilities, Family Support Units etc.
3. Review of Laws: With support from partners or tax payers’ money, government should review laws that defend the rights of the vulnerable people, especially the Sexual Offences Act 2012, which has loop holes that have allowed perpetrators to escape sentence. In reviewing this act (SOA 2012) the law will take it full course, no perpetrator of rape or sexual violence can be sentenced for seventy two (72) hours.
4. Monitoring and Evaluation: Government should monitor institutions to ensure that services provided for the vulnerable people are accessible, client’s needs are met and their issues are taken into consideration.
5. Withdrawal of Certificate: Government through the Office of the President, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Councils should withdraw certificate from organization(s) that embezzles donor funding without implementation or otherwise go against the code of practice of the said laws that regulates their work. Proper report should be presented to registered institution(s) for proper verification at the end of every year to ensure that funding received from donor partners is reached to their clients.